This past week has seen the condition of the ice on lakes change. At the beginning there were pockets of slush on many of the lakes. Then the temperatures dropped and the wind came up. This wind blew the insulating snow off the slush. The slush then froze. Now we are back to very little slush and lots of solid black ice. My neighbor say in some places it is 20 inches thick and you can see right through it.
So why do we care if there is slush on the lake? After all, the ice is still safe with slush on it. It is the getting stuck in slush that is the problem. Once you have disturbed the insulating snow, the slush freezes quickly. It also freezes in anything stuck in slush. Here are a couple stories about slush.
Years ago Bruce and I were invited down to Trout Lake to entertain some members of the press and talk about the great ice fishing in the area. Several locals brought snowmobiles with them. One of the people who came along was our then Congressman, John Blatnik. The Congressman was a complete politician who was always greeting people. He saw other groups of fishermen on the lake. Hopping on a snowmobile, Congressman Blatnik took off to say hello. Instead he got stuck a deep hole of slush – up to the snowmobile seat. Naturally, the Congressman walked away from it. Bruce and the owner of the snowmobile spent the next two hours getting the machine it. They were both soaked by the time the job was done.
Justine had two small Polaris Playmates for snowmobiles. Robert and Lee loved to drive them on the lake close to the lodge. One day one of the machines got into slush about 100 feet in front of the lodge. Bruce was at a sports show. Mom and I were the only adults around. Even though I understood the principle of getting machines out, I had never actually done it. It was another instance where Mom was the brains and I was the muscle.
Out the four of us went. We had some firewood to put under the machine and get it out of the slush. But first we had to clear all the slush out of the track. Luckily it was a small snowmobile. I would hold up the back so the machine was only sitting on its front skis. Then one of the boys would race the engine to blow out the slush. The only place the slush could go was out the back of the track right on me.
Next we put the machine on the firewood well out of the slush. Then we turned the machine off. There was still slush in the track so we dug it out with our hands. It is truly a fun job! Eventually we had the machine totally out of slush and all the slush out of the machine. Even this small machine was too much for us to pull to shore.
Now what? The machine is in the middle of the huge slush pocket. We all put on snowshoes and tramped a trail from the machine out of the slush pocket and to the shore. Every step weighed a ton as slush piled up on the snowshoes. The plan was to let the slush freeze overnight and then run the machine to shore on the frozen path. The next morning we were all relieved when the plan actually worked.